It has been a significant summer this year in terms of incoming transfers at Arsenal. The Gunners obtained the services of defender Gabriel Magalhaes, defensive midfielder Thomas Partey, winger Willian and replaced the departed Emiliano Martinez with Runar Alex Runarsson as the number two goalkeeper. They also extended the loan of midfielder Dani Ceballos from Real Madrid by another year, as well as the contract of defender David Luiz, and turned the previous loan spells of defenders Pablo Mari and Cedric Soares into permanent ones. But perhaps the most impotant piece of business of all was captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang signing a new contract. Arsenal reportedly made a late effort to bring in Houssem Aouar from Olympique Lyon, but that did not come through.
Lucas Torreira is now very close to completing a loan move to Atletico Madrid, according to The Athletic. It has also been confirmed by Goal.com Arsenal correspondent Charles Watts. The Uruguay international will join Diego Simeone’s team for the remainder of the 2020/21 season, with Atletico having the option to make the deal permanent at the end of that period.
The deal hasn’t been agreed in every detail yet, nor has Torreira’s medical been scheduled, but the parties involved in the talks are close to reaching the agreement.
The summer transfer window rambles on and Arsenal have so far been reasonably active in the market. They’ve secured the services of winger Willian from Chelsea on a free transfer and centre-back Gabriel Magalhaes from Lille for a reported fee of €30 million (£27m). That, however, doesn’t seem to be the end of the business this summer, if reports of further dealings are to be believed.
According to the Mirror, the Gunners are interested in signing West Ham United winger Felipe Anderson after they were offered the services of the Brazilian on a season-long loan for £5m. The 27-year-old arrived to the London Stadium from Lazio in 2018. Last season he made a total of 27 appearances for the Hammers, scoring once any laying on five assists.
Arsenal’s results have started gradually improving since Mikel Arteta took over from Unai Emery in December. Much more seems to be in place than before. There are clear ideas being implemented on the pitch, with every player working as hard as he can to fulfill the task given to him. However, it is the job of every manager to take constant looks at the squad at his disposal and ponder possible improvements; what needs to be strengthened, who are the players potentially not up to the standards required, would there be enough depth without them, and who could possibly take their places.
Granit Xhaka has been the target of some sharp criticism lately, with his performances continuously underwhelming. The Swiss international is known for his uncompromising battle style in the middle of the park, and he’s therefore expected to stamp his imprint and help Arsenal establish control over games. The expectations have only grown bigger after his selection as the team captain. However, it’s fair to say that he hasn’t lived up to those expectations at all.
The scrutiny the central midfielder finds himself under will only have increased further as he ducked down to let Scott McTominay’s shot sail over him and into the top corner in the 1-1 draw against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Monday.
So the North London Derby ended in a draw, with the two teams scoring two goals apiece.
Perhaps it’s too early at the moment, but the immediate feeling is – disappointment. More than anything else, it feels like an opportunity missed, a chance for Arsenal to pull away from their fiercest rivals and closest neighbours gone down the drain. The teams could have been five points apart, a big advantage this early in the season, but as it is, the gap remains only two.
Thursday night was a poor one for Arsenal, as the Gunners went own 3-1 to Rennes in the first leg of their Europa League last 16 tie. Unai Emery’s side were actually ahead in the first half until the 41st-minute dismissal of Greek centre-back Sokratis Papastathopoulos.
The incident changed the course of the game, as the French side equalised straight from Benjamin Bourigeaud resulting free-kick. From then on Arsenal seemed to capitulate.
Poor away form continues
Arsenal’s poor away form continued in France. The defeat means the Gunners have lost their last two away games in the Europa League. Unai Emery’s team have now also won just two of their last 11 matches on their travels in all competitions.
Sokratis Papastathopoulos went off injured after only 20 minutes in Arsenal’s FA Cup 1-3 defeat to Manchester United on Friday following an aerial battle with Jesse Lingard. The misfortune was later severely compounded when Romelu Lukaku, apparently unintentionally, hit Laurent Koscielny on the jaw with his foot and forced the captain off as well. With Shkodran Mustafi already on for Sokratis, manager Unai Emery was forced to deploy midfielder Granit Xhaka at the heart of defence again.
Arsenal have beaten Burnley by 3-1 in the 18th round of the 2018/19 Premier League season, courtesy of goals from Pierre-Emerick Auubameyang (14′, 48′), and Alex Iwobi (90′). The solitary strike for the visitors was the work of Ashley Barnes (63′). The Gunners are still in fifth place, but now they’ve equaled Chelsea’s point tally as the Blues suffered defeat at home to Leicester City.
But the result aside for a moment, there were some interesting things to take from this game. Let’s take a look.
Arsenal defeated AFC Bournemouth on the south coast on Sunday by 1-2, courtesy of a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang second-half winner after Jefferson Lerma gave the Gunners the lead with a stunning own goal and Josh King equalized, both in the first half. The win added to the team’s unbeaten run in all competitions to make it 17 and counting.
And speaking to the club’s official website afterwards, Sokratis Papastathopoulos revealed there is more yet to come. The former Borussia Dortmund defender said this was only between 70 and 80% of the team’s capabilities, and that he and his teammates are aware of the areas where they need to improve to reach their maximum.